Saturday, 12 September 2009

CRIMSON TRAIL by Paul D. Brazill

Crimson Trail

The stage coach shook and rattled, like a drunk in the first stages of withdrawal, invading Frank’s dreams and dragging him into consciousness. He opened his eyes but the day was as bright as a migraine and he clamped them shut again.

He counted to ten and slowly peeled back his eyelids. The coach was hot and cramped. A little old man with a bushy beard snoozed close to to the window, beside him a beautiful blond with a red ribbon tied around her neck sat reading the bible, eyes filled with tears.

All Frank could see outside was desert until a flock of screeching vultures, looking more like bats, sliced across the sky. The woman glanced over at him muttering to herself. He fiddled in his jacket pocket for his canteen of whisky and took a drink. It was empty.

How the hell had he ended up here? Was he leaving Tuscon or returning? His sleep had been fitful and stained with disturbing dreams. Or were they memories? Frank wished he could drink the whisky and wash away the dark and dingy thoughts that lurked in the murky corners of his mind. He took out a scarlet bandanna and scrubbed the encrusted blood from his hands as the stage coach came to a small town.

Tombstone. Well, it looked like Tombstone but why was everything painted red? He shivered as he remembered coming here with Becky. A picture of her naked on a bed, a slash of lipstick across her mouth, turned into an image of her splattered with blood. The sound of a Colt .45 echoed through his thoughts until the old man jolted him out of his reverie.

‘Frank,’ he said, ‘You’re here.’

The coach stopped and the horses screamed. As Frank and the blond got off , he realized the ribbon around her neck was blood. The main streets spilled with cavalry and Frank guessed that it must be some sort of holiday.

Was it Christmas? He couldn’t remember. He turned and saw that the old man was still on the coach waving as it rode away. The stage driver, his eyes glowing red, tipped his crimson stetson and laughed like a maniac. It was getting hotter as he walked down the Main Street, passing the deserted salloon and whorehouse. And it was getting harder to breath. Dark memories skewered his thoughts. Then he heard screams .

The sky got redder. Everything got redder. And Frank finally understood where he was and why he was there. It had been stupid of him to get involved with a woman with a history. Especially Becky’s tainted history. From their first night together, they were on a trail that was bound to end in tears. And blood.

Hers. Or his.

‘It’ll be a cold day in hell when I let you walk away from me,’ Becky had once said. She was wrong on that account. It was a red hot day. And it would only get hotter.



Paul Brazill was born in Hartlepool, England and lives in Bydgoszcz, Poland. He has had stories in Powder Burn Flash, The Flash Fiction Offensive, Six Sentences, A Twist Of Noir, Thrillers Killers n Chillers and Beat To A Pulp and other such classy joints.. He can be found stalking ‘you would say that, wouldn’t you?’ at


  1. That was spot on, my kind of tale, great work, glad you're back on the scene.

  2. more powerful than a woman's is the fury of the ira when they audit you.

    jus' sayin'.

    nicely done, paul

  3. You are the master of senses - I nearly had to take a Tylenol after this!

    Nice haul of a bloody tale.


  4. Serious insight into what's left of the character's mind.

  5. women with there's is a novel in and of itself. crack tale this.

  6. thanks very much all. it was an experiment. maybe another western in the pipeline...

  7. Nice piece Paul. Would gladly read more of the same. Go for that western.

  8. Catching up on a few stories and I’m glad I didn’t miss this one – a western as well! Great imagery Paul and a fine piece of writing.